Dignity in Court Proceedings

Children across Texas are often forced to wear shackles around their wrists and ankles when appearing before a judge, even when charged with low-level crimes or when they have no previous criminal history. The practice is dehumanizing and often traumatizing for young people. We work at the county level to limit the use of shackles and allow juvenile defendants to wear clothing other than a correctional uniform for court proceedings. We are also working to encourage the adoption of a statewide rule banning the indiscriminate use of shackling.

Team Members

Headshot of Brett Merfish

Brett M. Merfish

Director of Youth Justice,
Youth Homelessness Project, Juvenile Justice Project

Headshot of Martin Martinez

Martin A. Martinez, M.P.Aff

Senior Policy Analyst,
Youth Homelessness Project, Juvenile Justice Project

Key Statistics

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The Supreme Court of Texas issued a rule, effective June 2023, ending the indiscriminate shackling of children in juvenile hearings. Children will only be shackled in hearings if the court finds they are a risk to themselves or others, or if they are a flight risk. 

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25 States

Texas has joined at least 25 other states in banning indiscriminate shackling in youth courtrooms.

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4 Counties

Before the 2023 Texas Supreme Court statewide rule, four counties had policies in place to not indiscriminately shackle children: Dallas, Tarrant, Travis, and Williamson counties.